Google Earth las launched an outreach programme designed to give charities and other non-profits tools to best use the 3D landscape environment.

The company will give organisations access to tutorials, guides, case studies, forums and software to produce data layers with which they can add rich, location-based information to the environment.

Many hundreds of these layers are already available to download in Keyhole Markup Language (KML) format, and can be added to Google Earth to introduce data like weather forecasts and seismic activity.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Crisis In Darfur map layer plots the locations of villages destroyed in the Sudanese conflict. The United Nations Environment Programme uses a map to illustrate the changing environment.

John Hanke, the director of Google Earth and Maps, told a press conference that, whilst the team expected the 3D application would have many business uses, it was non-profits who were amongst some of the most prolific users of the system.

The company is now making $400 Google Earth Pro grants available to successful applicants.

The outreach programme also involves showcasing a number of non-profit KML files, and Google has added new layers from the Global Heritage Fund, Earthwatch and Fair Trade.